You ALWAYS have a choice …

Crossroads

Do you ever get stuck feeling like everything is helpless and there is nothing you can do about it?

Sometimes we are restricted in our abilities to change a situation, but we always have a choice.

Let’s give a couple examples to get across what I am wanting to say¬†…

On the way to work, I go a quick way even though I am not supposed to. Y’know, because I’m naughty and so very rebellious. But really, there is a lane I am supposed to only use after 9:30am. Before then, only cyclists and bus drivers can use it. But compared to some of the other crimes in life, I recon I’ll be spared an eternity in Hell for this. Today though, as I was going through, I spotted a bus coming from the opposite direction. The road is narrow, so I pulled over to allow the bus driver to come past. He looked at me and he knew I wasn’t supposed to be there.

He shook his head at me and I audibly laughed after. But now I feel a bit nervous. Up until today, I’d not been ‘told off’ for my naughty behaviour … I’d gotten away with it. But I might see the bus driver again. It made me a little anxious, thinking ‘Shit. I don’t want to keep bumping into this guy. What if he steps it up a gear? Maybe gives me the middle finger … maybe honks his horn at me while waving his arms in outrage … Maybe blocks the road and pulls out a machine gun and f*cking shoots me!!!’ Okay – that last one seems unlikely.

But I have a choice, don’t I? I can either carry on going down the ‘illegal’ route, and risk being shouted at, while feeling like I’m sticking it to the man. Or I can be a good little man-child and add another 10 minutes to my journey.

Let’s think of another example – also from today.

I was sitting on a bench by a river on my lunch break at work. I was there for 5 minutes, enjoying my hummus and falafel sandwich, watching the swans and geese. Then, a couple of middle aged ladies came up to me and asked, “Is it okay if we join you? There aren’t any benches left.”

In my head, I said “No. I would rather be left to read in peace without feeling like I’m eavesdropping on your conversation and feeling like my personal space is being invaded”.

Out loud, I said “Sure. Have a seat”.

After a few moments, I shifted my eyes to the right and saw – quite clearly – a solitary bench, with nobody sitting on it. I thought, ‘I could just go and walk over there and have my own space again … but these ladies will probably think I’m rude and antisocial’.

I debated it for a few minutes and then I realised … I have a choice. Thinking about it isn’t going to change anything. What am I going to do? Do I want to spend the rest of my lunch sat with these gossiping women and not being able to concentrate on my book? Not really, no. So I just walked off and sat on another bench. Maybe they thought I was rude. But does it matter? Of course not. I enjoyed reading my Kindle, without feeling like I was being watched (something us introverts cannot avoid feeling).

So, what I am trying to put across to you is that you cannot always help the things that happen to you. Often, we are just a passenger on this roller-coaster ride and have little influence on what will come about. But we can change our reactions and we have a choice in how we handle situations.

Should you take that medication? Who knows… but it’s up to you if you decide to or not.

Should you go out tonight with your friends? Or should you stay at home and read like you want to?

Should you quit your job? Maybe not if you have nothing else lined up, but nobody is going to stop you.

Next time you feel yourself feeling trapped, realise that you can change your response. Sometimes, in my day-job, I get down and start wondering what I am doing with my life. I want to be making YouTube videos, or writing, or seeing the World. I want to be creating music. But I also want to be able to eat and have a roof over my head. You can’t always have it both ways, but acknowledge that you are choosing what you do with your life.

I hope this helps you. Give it some thought the next time you are feeling like things are out of your control.

If you’re a newbie, be sure to Follow me (not in a ‘I’m outside your window’ kind of way) and Subscribe to the YouTube channel for future videos on life as a Highly Sensitive Dude.

Peace and Love,

~ Alex.

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Feeling Depressed :( *Trigger Warning*

Depressed

Hi.

I feel really, really, REALLY bad.

I’m going to be very transparent in this post. Like a freaking window.

I set up this Blog out of pure desperation. I am so desperate to escape my current lifestyle of working in a busy office and dealing with what feels like constant stress. And I needed to be able to express myself to people who don’t know me in real life. I feel thin-skinned and after a while of facing the bombardment of noise and bright visuals, I want to hide away. I start getting really anxious and don’t want to be around people.

I can’t look anyone in the eye, because my self-esteem has died. I start to feel paranoid that people are judging me or whispering about me.

I start to question everything.

Why is this World so cruel? What if there is no such thing as Karma? What if the people who do bad things just get away with it? Why do the bad guys so often succeed and will our World always feel so hopeless and upside-down? How can I escape this? Maybe I should just live in a cave away from civilization. Will I always feel this unhappy? What if there is no such thing as long-term happiness? Maybe the odd moment is all you get. And then you just die. Holy shit – What if this is as good as it gets? I just want to feel peaceful. I just want a bit of space and quiet. I don’t fit into this way of life …

I have been working in the wrong jobs for years but, realistically, I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do to get my life on track. It’s hard as a creative person.

I want to be a writer, or do music, or help animals.

But there are too many people in this World and they are better than me. They don’t all have adrenal fatigue or anxiety & depression. I have these obstacles. I have no confidence in myself. I feel like a lone wolf when I go about my daily life. I feel SO alone. I feel like I have nobody to connect to when I’m at work. I feel like nobody understands me. Maybe I am just a freak.

Surely it isn’t supposed to be this hard. I have read SO MANY self-help books and where have they got me? What change have they helped to create? Nowhere. Nothing.

Where do I begin? I am struggling to pull myself out of bed to face what will be another exhausting day. I just want to stay inside, away from the madness. I just want to read books and watch TV.

Due to the stress I have experienced, over such a long period of time, I am gaining weight around my stomach (AKA Visceral Fat). This can kill you in the long run, and though I still appear skinny to anyone who would glance my way, I feel uncomfortable sitting down. I have ‘Skinny-Fat’. My diet is good. I walk a lot. But stress increases cortisol production from the adrenal glands and this in turn leads to weight gain. Until I can deal with the stress (and I’ve tried for years at this point), I am screwed.

I just feel like I’m sinking into a pit of doom. I want to feel safe. I want to feel like there is hope and that I can get better. But I don’t know where to start.

I would like to hear some words of encouragement if anyone is in a position to help me. I’m feeling really lost.

ūüė¶

 

How To Deal With Anxiety (HSPs).

Matrix

This follows on from my last post, where I talked about why anxiety is common among Highly Sensitive People.

You can read that post HERE.

After living with Anxiety (and Depression) on and off for 10 years, I wanted to share what I have learned and how I deal with my crazy little mind.

I spent a lot of money on supplements for a long time, because I was convinced my anxiety and depression were related to a physical problem. I’m not talking about serotonin – I am talking about the negative side-effects I experienced following treatment with Accutane (as previously discussed). I figured I was only depressed and anxious because I felt weak and tired a lot of the time. Or that my body was over-run by toxic medicine residue.

Did any of those supplements help? No. I literally pissed away thousands of pounds and noticed absolutely NO changes. And when I say supplements, I mean I tried like everything. Ancient Chinese herbs, multi-minerals, other herbal remedies (specifically made for me by a Herbalist). All kinds of nasty stuff, like ‘Chinese Bitters’. Holy cow, they were bad!

At one point, I literally put Coffee up my ass!

Don’t judge me! I was super desperate¬†to feel better and even though I knew it seemed like a long shot, I was advised that it’d help cleanse my liver of toxins. To be honest, it felt quite nice (haha) though those days are now ‘behind’ me.

Get it? ‘Behind me’ … like my butt.

Anyway … it’s totally true that there is a mind and body connection. Stress can literally kill you if you don’t take it seriously. At times, I wonder how the f*ck I’m still alive. Like, I’ve been through some deep shit, man. How has my body not just given up? How have I not got cancer?

Despite some ongoing health issues – which I will touch upon in a future post about Health and High Sensitivity – I am very lucky to have not been struck down with anything life threatening.

But if you lack energy, motivation and generally feel a bit naff, it could be that your mind is having an effect on your body. Just in case anyone is still in doubt or somehow thinks this sounds New-agey, it is pure science. The placebo effect has proven how our mind can influence our body. There are plenty of metaphysical books out there about healing. People claim to have beaten Cancer and other incurable diseases by changing their lifestyles and their minds. I for one believe them, because life is too bizarre to be a mistake.

I don’t think we are supposed to just die for no reason, having not achieved the things we are capable of. Although, having said that, this World is obviously very mysterious and, at times, frustrating and brutal. People die because of other road users, or terrorist attacks, or sociopath cannibals. It is hard to give meaning to some things.

Can you tell I am just writing without a thought? This post may seem a little all-over-the-place, but I’m in the zone!

Let’s get to the point though. Anxiety is a big problem. If you are anxious (or depressed, or just generally feeling like crap) a lot of the time, your body is in fight, flight or freeze mode. I’m sure you have heard this before. The whole Caveman thing, where we are faced with a Lion and our adrenal glands are put to work. Everything is put on hold, resulting in susceptibility to illness, a low sex drive, digestive problems and a bunch of other weird stuff. Your heart might race. You get a throbbing headache. Maybe you feel dizzy.

Here is what I can tell you …

  • The more you fight to change the anxiety response, the worse you feel. Because it doesn’t work like that. You are anxious because you are stressed out and resisting what is your current reality. Continuing to fight, while seemingly noble, will not change anything. If you enter a situation where you feel fear, do not try to change your reaction. You can’t! Allow the anxiety to remain there and slow down. Focus on your breathing and allow yourself to just stop caring for a minute. I mean, Jesus, you can’t carry on living like this all the time, right? It can be hard when you are stuck in a rut. Sometimes you need to get away from the situation that’s bringing you down. But sometimes, you need to accept your limitations and shift your focus.
  • The more grateful you are – for the things that are awesome about your life – the better you will feel. There are some Millionaires who are less satisfied with their lives than those who can’t even meet their basic needs in Eastern Countries, stuck in poverty. Often, what we focus on is what we feel. So choose to be grateful for the things that are good in your life. I guarantee you have plenty to be grateful for. Your current mindset may say otherwise. Don’t believe a word. It’s easy to keep saying you will be happy when you quit your job, you find a loving partner, you go on holiday or whatever. But sometimes things are complicated. Sometimes dreams remain dreams. Sometimes a holiday is not forthcoming. So look around at what you have now, in the present. Nothing can last forever, so remember to enjoy the things that surround you at this moment in time.
  • Exercise is so important for the following reason. Anxiety and stress cause your adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline and cortisol (hormones). This is okay in moderation, but if it keeps happening you wind up feeling like a deflated bag of potatoes. Exhausted. The best way to release that pent up tension is through exercise. Like, for me, I do get stressed more easily than some people. If I don’t get away from the office during my lunch break, I can start to feel more and more pissed off. I need to have some alone time and space from people. I need to get away from buildings and cars. I get to a spot of nature and it helps. Maybe I still feel fed up afterwards, and want to go home, but it’s the best thing I can do. Combine nature with exercise and you’re onto something good. For me, gyms are ugly factories filled with steroid-injecting, mouth breathing meat-heads, so I avoid them.
  • Anxiety is normal. We can’t feel great and relaxed all the time. And our World promotes anxiety through the negative stories in the news – and there is always a new one. The trashy magazines that tell you how you should look are nothing but poison. People on Social Media can seem so happy and all-together. Remember to keep a realistic perspective. Some people like to make our they are fine when they are really not fine. Not everyone in the streets is a murderer. Celebrities aren’t flawless and pictures are heavily edited. Most of all, accept that with this life (that we have been GIVEN) we can’t always have it our way. Appreciate the good times and carry on when things are hard.

Because I guarantee you, if you feel beaten up at the moment, you will feel better and will have a smile on your face again soon. Anxiety cannot survive if you have hope and love in your heart. So choose to believe there is a reason for all of this. Look for the good in things and if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to take the reigns and create change.

I wish you all a wonderful week.

Please share this blog post if you enjoyed it. It isn’t easy trying to reach people when you are only just starting out.

I would love to hear from you. What makes you feel most relaxed? What are your anti-anxiety tips?

Peace and love,

~ Alex.

Anxiety in Highly Sensitive People.

Stefan 4

I have lived with Anxiety ever since entering Adulthood – around 10 years ago (I am 26 as I write this).

I was shy and sometimes anxious when I was a child, but when our eyes are opened and we are told the truth about some of the things that happen in our World, it’s hard to go back to that state of innocence and naivety.

I mean, let’s be real … it was much easier to relax and have fun when we thought that Santa Claus was real. We loved that guy purely because we wanted some gifts.

Now, if an overweight man with a beard came down our chimney and entered our homes, we would call the Police. We would also probably wonder how an overweight man can actually fit down a chimney. Oh, and if they want to invite Children to sit on their lap, be sure they aren’t a pedophile!

I think I’ll tell my future children from the get-go that Santa is a lie. I’m not having some fictional fat-ass take the credit for the Playstation 6 (let’s hope that they come up with a new name by then) that I bought ’em!

Oh, and with regards to the Tooth Fairy, what kind of weirdo is paying to collect some second-hand teeth?

Anxiety is something that everyone has to deal with, but some can suffer chronically, until it takes over their lives and makes everything appear very hostile, dangerous and bleak.

I would say the highly intelligent and highly aware are those most likely to struggle.¬†Ultimately, I think we HSPs are much more prone to becoming anxious (and depressed – but more on that another time) because we feel things deeply and it’s hard to find distraction when we are constantly trying to live with purpose. Sometimes life gets in the way and we are not able to achieve the things we dream of achieving. It can take a long time to get anywhere.

And some people may be happy to settle for whatever lands at their feet and then they enjoy their social lives or watching TV soaps when they get home from work, but for the Highly Sensitive we crave meaning and depth- more than can be offered by ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ or ‘America’s Next Top Model’.

And hey, I’m all for finding a healthy escape.

I enjoy watching shows on Netflix (maybe I’ll do a post on the kind of things I watch) but I can find it hard to relax when I feel I am not achieving what I would like to be. Or other things are at the front of my mind, such as the hopeless lives Farm animals are born into. I feel a duty to get involved with fixing this dreadfully broken World, because I am no longer in denial that things are okay.

Things are actually pretty shit. And that becomes apparent as you mature and learn about our reality.

I have learned to take better care of myself, but I do have to be extra diligent, or else I can fall into a pit of fear and apprehension. Things are stimulating for us, and so loud noises and crowds of people naturally wear us down and can leave us a frazzled mess. On top of that, if we skimp on sleep and eat poor diets, we suffer the consequences pretty quickly.

It can feel as if we are alone and separate and this, again, causes us to feel anxious. We feel like the odd ones out and can sense people’s judgement. We overthink things and end up worrying that people don’t like us, or think we are boring, quiet or even rude because we don’t quite fit in to the status quo.

As an introverted Vegan, I do feel very alone out in my every day life. I feel like I am more evolved than others, without meaning to sound like I have my head stuck up my ass. I roll my eyes (in my mind) when I hear people’s small talk or superficial conversation. I feel frustrated with my job and long to feel at peace. I get bored and agitated with monotonous routine.

Sometimes it can feel like I will never get there and that everything is just pointless (falling more into the category of depression here) …

If we don’t allow ourselves to live in line with our core values, we will feel like crap. We will feel like something is missing. We will have difficulty resting and sleeping through the night.

Given that I have dealt with these feelings for a long time, I have read hundreds of self-help books and spent a lot of time looking into treatment of Anxiety. I will share what I have learned soon, but please know that there is no ‘cure’. There are lots of little things we can do to help ourselves, but while the World remains as it is, we will feel pain. In our lifetimes, there will always be fear because things – if they are ever going to change – are not going to change quickly.

There is always the threat of another World War, and it can seem inevitable when Donald f*cking Trump might¬†actually¬†be elected as the next President. The new Prime Minister of the UK – Theresa May – has gone on record to say she would kill thousands of innocent people with a nuclear bomb to show ‘we aren’t afraid to use our weapons’. Pretty scary stuff. Of course, this was all said hypothetically and I don’t think it’s as simple as pressing a little red button behind a capsule, but you have to wonder what our future will look like.

Sometimes, although it is hard, we need to let go of feeling responsible for everyone else’s problems and look after ourselves. As I write this, I am feeling a burden. I feel like I could be doing more for the animals. I feel like I am responsible for helping them. But I also feel exhausted. I feel like my spirit is weak, because I have been focusing on the negative a lot.

I am a pessimist, although I sometimes think I am just being realistic.

I need to learn to let go of that which I have no control over and let people make their own choices – good or bad. Because telling people to stop paying for animals to be slaughtered¬†isn’t guaranteed to change their mindset. In fact, most people become defensive and immature when faced with reality. They can get angry at you for asking them to change and argue that it’s a personal choice to murder innocent beings.

Anyway, I’m going off on a Vegan rant so I will end this one here.

P.S. I set up a YouTube channel and put up my first video, so be sure to check that out HERE.

See you in the next post!

~ Alex.

10 Reasons I HATE being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

HSP

This is a follow up to my previous post on 10 Reasons I LOVE being a HSP. If you don’t like anything negative, you may want to skip past this one.

Although, I would say we need to accept both the good and bad in anything. Some things have been difficult for me lately, so this is my opportunity to rant. There will be the occasional swear word (because I think swearing can – sometimes – be a good way of expressing and releasing anger), so – again – if you don’t want to hear it, you may want to steer clear until my next post.

With that said, for those who are deciding to stick around, here is a list of the things that I really don’t enjoy about my High Sensitivity.

#1 – Too much empathy. This one is kind of funny, because being empathetic was also one of the traits on my love list. But honestly, it’s not always great to feel empathetic. Look at all the messed up things in our World. As an HSP, it’s hard to not worry about it all. For me, I constantly worry and feel heart broken that animals are abused and murdered every second for food that – in my opinion – isn’t really food and is not needed to survive. In fact, I think it’s killing us because our hospitals are full of dying people. Animal products are obviously not the only problem in our diets, but 18 of the 19 leading causes of death (I think the 19th was falling/trips) have been directly linked to the consumption of meat and animal products like dairy (Go and search for ‘Dr. Michael Greger’ or read his incredible book, ‘How Not To Die’ if you want to find out more).

More pressing than anything is the reality that in Asia they believe that killing dogs in the most violent and merciless ways will make the meat taste better. I won’t go into detail on this, but be grateful if you don’t know about the Dog Meat trade and Yulin Festival. I still find it difficult to believe that this is actually happening. It makes life painful to know anyone could treat another living being in such a way. In a more general sense, I absorb people’s negative energy as well. If I speak with an angry customer on the phone, it makes me feel angry and irritable. And sure, nobody else (HSP or otherwise) likes to speak to difficult people, but I find myself less able to hold a barrier between us.

(Note: People are obviously also treated like objects and nothings, but I am more drawn to animals because I think they are the most helpless and innocent of all.)

#2 – Inability to deal with stress and often feeling anxious. I am going to do a future post on Anxiety, but let’s just say that feeling anxious every day takes its toll. The World is very stimulating as a HSP and every day work life (at least how it currently is for me – an open office, yikes!) can feel like a living hell. I recently started a new job and have been suffering with increased anxiety and insomnia. I thought by working for a smaller company, my problem with anxiety and over-stimulation would be decreased. It turns ¬†out it is just the same, if not worse, because there is still a lot of noise. It is just more enclosed. This is also combined with working in a career that bores me beyond belief. I need to make a shift in what I do (it’s Car Insurance) but that can be easier said than done when you have bills to pay.

#3 – Feeling less of a man. Again, I want to do a more in depth post on being a Highly Sensitive Dude, because that is what separates this blog from others already out there. But for now, I will say that – even now that I know I am a HSP – I can get down on myself for not feeling manly or resilient.I can feel weak and ‘too sensitive’ in this often cruel and competitive World.

#4 – Lack of friends and support. Sometimes, I feel like I cannot connect with a single person, apart from my girlfriend who is very similar to me. I have grown to feel distant from own family, who all seem completely different to me and so I don’t know how I inherited my high sensitivity. When I feel peaceful and am away from hectic places (like work or busy supermarkets) I can feel at ease with myself and don’t really mind that I’m not super popular, but when I am feeling low and defeated, I worry that nobody would come to my Wedding (not that I have one planned) or, worse yet, to my funeral. I speak with people online, but without physically being with someone that connection can feel limited and not real. I am, however, grateful to have at least one person who gets me. Because that’s really all you ever need.

#5 – Other people don’t get it. I hate that people see sensitivity as a weakness. I hate that this World is so full of shit. The Kardashians. The Only Way is Essex. Famous people who only care about themselves. Rihanna and Drake outselling real musicians who actually put effort into their song writing. A lot of people are not good people and will do whatever they have to in order to benefit themselves. So much of our World is so superficial, narcissistic and shallow that I often feel like I don’t belong here. I hate that being kind and caring is undervalued and status/money/possessions are seen as the symbol ¬†of Success. P.S. My Dad still thinks I am just shy and will grow out of it like he did.

#6 РCreativity is not valued and I feel like just a number. It is hard to remain spiritual or to have faith in a World in which Millions of people compete for recognition of their creativeness. Everything is about marketing and branding.

Although there have been many times when I have worked on music and felt deeply proud of my work, when I have only a small reaction (if any) it can make me doubt myself. I feel like if something doesn’t bring in money, it’s wasted time. I know that is silly and being creative is about more than making money, but when you feel like it’s the only thing you are good at and can succeed in, while struggling to exist in a job that feels empty, it can make you desperate for a bit of fame or some acknowledgement, at least.

#7 – Dear head, shut up. When I’m laying in bed at night and I cannot turn my brain off, nothing could be worse. I once went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in¬†Hemel Hemstead. I had been looking forward to it, but the long drive was very overwhelming and tiring for me (it was my first time on a Motorway, and hopefully my last). By the time I got there, I felt so on edge and annoyed. I ended up having such bad insomnia that I literally didn’t sleep for one second. Not ONE wink of sleep!

The next day, at the Studio Tour, I was sat at the opening (just before you go into the Great Hall) and they play a short movie. I was struggling to keep my eyes open and all I could think was, ‘No! This is meant to be an amazing day and now it’s fucking ruined like every other thing I try to do!’ After the tour, several hours later, I had to get back on the Motorway (so I guess the first time wasn’t my last) and head home. It’s about a 3 hour drive. Holy shit, was I tired! I somehow managed to make it home without falling asleep at the wheel and then crashed on my bed for about 30 minutes before my Mum woke me and reminded me that I needed to get to the theatre that night to see ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ (which turned out to be amazing, despite the lack of rest). I learned the hard way that I should never create too many plans for myself at once. The next day, I was in bed doing absolutely nothing and feeling like a zombie.

#8 – Having to plan things, rather than being able to go with the flow. I wish I was able to just book a holiday, or begin a new job, or turn up to a restaurant spontaneously, but because I am a HSP, I need to know exactly what to expect so I can begin to make plans. Most people will start a job, albeit it with some nerves, and then will quickly fit in and find their ‘place’ in the company. For me, I am very slow to warm up and it can take weeks to feel comfortable in a new environment and around new people. I can accept a job offer and then I start and realise the environment is going to be too stimulating and stressful for me. I wish I could adapt and just be more easy going and relaxed. The same with a holiday … I need to know it’s going to be a peaceful setting and I want to know everything about it because, as I said, new situations can kind of freak me out a little bit.

#9 – Getting stuck in deep depression. I am speaking about my personal experience and don’t want to imply that every HSP is depressed. However, I think it is common among us and the reasons for that should be understandable. We are in a minority and the Working World (if you are not self-employed) is nearly always designed with extroverts and groups in mind. The typical employer believes that people should work together (even when they have individual duties and objectives) and this can be a living nightmare for us introverted and/or sensitive folk. I will probably do a full-length post in which I rant about open offices. I also get depressed because of point #1 (the suffering in our World) and because I think too deeply about everything. Last night I was watching some conspiracy theory videos. I’m not going to delve too far into the conspiracies – and some might even be offended at the theories – but let’s just say that there is a lot of weird stuff surrounding 9/11 and The landing on the Moon in 1969. Go find Shane Dawson’s videos on YouTube about these topics. It’s pretty scary to think the government might manipulate us to such an extent. I will shut up now, because some of you are going to think I’m crazy. Oh, and Madeleine McCann’s parents totally did it – just saying.

#10 – There are just so many obstacles to peace and relaxation. I would love to sit around all day in my underwear doing Yoga, Meditating, walking my dog (maybe put some jeans on at that point) and playing guitar. Oh, and reading. But life always finds a way to stop you having that freedom. My Mum keeps suggesting I partake in the lottery … because that’s working out for a lot of people, right? But honestly, it can get to a point where I feel so sleep deprived, over-worked and starving of fun that I struggle to pull myself out of bed and do it all again another day.

There we go. 10 super-negative things! I hope I didn’t make you feel like you want to jump off a bridge. I’m sure as a HSP you can relate to a lot of what I have talked about. I would LOVE to hear from you about your own struggles. If you missed my positive list, be sure to go back a post and read that. This really can be a great thing. We are awesome people. Life can create a lot of problems for us, but we have to carry on and see things through even when we are burnt out. We need to practice daily self-care and be more diligent than others, but when we feel good and peaceful, there is nothing else we need.

I look forward to speaking with you again soon.

~ Alex.

10 Reasons I LOVE being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

A little word of warning …

The super positive title of this post is going to soon be contradicted by a follow up post about why I HATE being a HSP. But for now, we will focus on what is AWESOME about being sensitive.

#1 – I am very empathetic and feel deeply connected to animals. I feel I can sense their mood and emotional state based on their body language. I also care for people, but animals have a special place in my heart because our World exploits them and takes everything it can without giving back (more on this another time). I see them as pure, innocent and REAL – much like Children before the World intrudes and turns them into self-conscious adults who act their way through life. My dog has helped me through some really tough times, just by being her little doggy self. If I was not a HSP, I wouldn’t appreciate the silent connection that two different species can share. Look how beautiful she is …

Maisie

(She isn’t quite so cute when she eats her own poop)

#2 РI make conscious choices and have very strong morals. If everyone could CARE and FEEL like we HSPs do, this World would not be so very fragmented and screwed up.

#3 – I don’t get distracted with unimportant things like status or owning the latest gadget. I live beyond the shallow. I am able to live DEEPLY and SPIRTIUALLY. I don’t believe in God or Religion, personally. However, I feel there is more to what we think we know based on the physical. I believe in …

#4 – … Nature! I absolutely love how wonderful and perfect Nature is. It grows food for us. It sustains life and gives, gives, gives. Epic Mountains. The Northern Lights. A Star-filled Sky. All the colours of the Rainbow. A Sunset. Snow. The fresh, optimistic feeling you get walking on a Beach and feeling at one with this Planet as your feet sink into the sand. Of course, some people don’t appreciate the Planet like we do and are gradually tearing it to pieces (watch ‘Cowspiracy’ on Netflix). I feel so peaceful in the outdoors and it’s a blessing to be within such an amazing World (despite all the chaos and noise it contains).

#5 – I am not overly reliant on people¬†like many others are. This is largely in part because I am an Introverted HSP. But I think, because of my sensitivity, I appreciate time alone and feel like I really know who I am. While I can feel envious of other, ‘normal’, people – are they really happy if they cannot stand being in their own company? Is it good to rely on lots of people for your own happiness? Is it good to need a lot of external stimuli in order to feel alive? I feel alive and well when I am in my bed or sat in a garden chair reading a new book on my Kindle. It may sound boring to some, but for me it is¬†blissful.

#6 – My intuition. I have learned to trust it, because there were times in my past when I didn’t want to hear the truth and only ended up causing myself greater despair further down the line. Sometimes our intuition will not be telling us something we want to hear, but when it is strong, we need to listen to it and take some time to be with ourselves while we decide upon a plan of action. Doing nothing causes a lot of problems when the voice in our head is screaming for change or an escape. It’s going to keep shouting until we do something.

#7 – My creativity. I write and record music, I can put YouTube videos together. I can be creative in my writing and this is the positive side of the HSP/Introvert coin. Although I sometimes feel like my talents aren’t recognised or respected (or even ‘needed’) in this World, I feel very connected to … something … when I am in the zone of creativity, or even appreciating the works of other people – Film makers, artists, writers, actors and musicians.

#8 – Knowledge and life experience. Through all the hard times I have been through, I feel like if I am a parent one day, I will be able to really help my child find their way through life. It all comes from understanding and accepting yourself – for your talents and your flaws. I also know you cannot be controlling as a parent and you need to allow children to make their own decisions and mistakes. Because mistakes and failures are important in becoming stronger and growing into an adult.

#9 – I feel LOVE stronger and more powerfully than non-HSPs. My Girlfriend is a HSP too, but I mean Love in general. I can suffer the consequences of feeling other emotions very strongly (more on than in the next blog post) but it’s great to feel such strong emotions at times. It is what makes us human and alive. I can be on Cloud 9 (whatever that actually means) and have Bipolar like highs when I am happy and excited. There is nothing that feels better than that.

#10 – Awareness and Survival in my Genes. If this World ever reverts back to us surviving in the Wild (Hunger Games style), I would be a great person to hang around with. Because I can sense changes in mood and the environment and I am careful, so avoid making rash decisions and school-boy errors. We really need some Highly Sensitive Politicians instead of these egotistical, greedy and power-hungry morons.

So…

What do YOU love about being a HSP? Leave a comment and please share this post if you enjoyed it ūüôā

~ Alex.

 

 

How I discovered I was a Highly Sensitive Person.

I first discovered I was a HSP several years ago, when I stumbled upon the World renowned book by Elaine Aron.

I remember it coming up as a book linked to others I was searching for on Introversion, as I had began to realise there were other people like me.

I always knew there was a reason for the way I felt. I just didn’t know what that reason was yet.¬†I thought I’d tell you a bit about my life story … Buckle in. It’s not straight forward or short, but I promise you that it will be an interesting read.

***

I had always been shy as a little dude, thinking about it now. I have some vivid childhood memories, in which I felt scared and alone. Stuck in my imagination, I worried a lot about things that could happen. About things that might go wrong. I will save some of those details for another post I have planned on growing up as a HSP, but I was a happy child, I would say. I had friends, but I was afraid they would leave me. At times, I was afraid I didn’t have enough friends, or didn’t quite fit in. I felt like I would be everyone’s last choice. I felt very unsure of myself when I was on my own.

But the lines became blurred as I grew up. I didn’t know why I was the way I was. At 15, I developed a bad case of Acne and became much more self-aware and lacking in confidence, which I suppose is understandable. No conventional treatments proved to be of any use and I ended up taking a serious, powerful medication called Roaccutane (known as Accutane in The¬†US).

Suddenly, I found myself to be very unstable. I was deeply affected by the side-effects of the drug and I became very emotional. I would cry hard and long … really sobbing, and I would have no idea why. Because, if anything, I should have felt happy that my skin was clearing up and I was looking less like a Pizza.

I had moments of pure rage where I was afraid of myself and the thoughts running through my head. I thought I was going to end up hurting someone, or myself, although I never did. All of this was completely out of the blue for me, and so I was determined Accutane was to blame for my problems with depression and anxiety.

I quit the drug after being on it for 5 months, but my mental (and some physical) struggles persisted.

I spent years obsessing about what the drug had done to me. It was all I really thought about. I would be on forums late at night talking to others who had been negatively affected by the drug. For hours we would try to grasp what sounded like a logical theory of what the drug had done to us. We were desperately seeking a magical supplement or diet that might help us recover our health. Some people tried fasting for 3 weeks. Some people went for colonic irrigation, as if that would reverse all the damage. Others cut nearly every food group out of their diet. All in an attempt to overcome the various issues, like Chronic fatigue, aching joints, dry mouth/dry eyes, low (or no) libido and deep depression.

I myself spent thousands of pounds on different supplements and saw various health specialists. I had numerous blood tests, all of which came back as ‘normal’. I was losing my mind because I just¬†knew¬†that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal. I had gone from being super horny and athletic to someone with no desire for sex at all and I felt very weak, physically (and mentally).

None of the supplements made any difference, by the way. And the forum post, which I started, now has over 1,000,000 views. People there are still confused as to what on earth happened. I haven’t been involved with any of the discussions for a few years, but I did partake in a BBC documentary about Accutane and it’s link to Suicide.

But not for one moment during this time did I consider Accutane might not be the only factor in the struggles I was experiencing as I entered the adult World or work and responsibility. I felt certain that it was the culprit. I would have bet my life on it.

And yet, growing up is hard for nearly everyone and all of this happened during a time of massive change. From Boy to Man. From Student to Employee.

During the years after High School and my treatment with Accutane, I felt totally lost. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I felt tired – constantly. I had social anxiety and I would get depressed often, though the crying for no reason went away quickly after ending treatment. I became very introverted and split off from my friends and family. I spent most days worrying about what the heck was wrong with me. I also thought about killing myself, a lot. Because the emotional turmoil I was going through every day was too much to bear. I felt numb. Completely and utterly worn out. I felt like the best years of my life had been stolen from me and that my life was over.

***

But as the years went on, I realised Accutane was not to blame for all of my problems. I had always told myself that everything was super perfect – and then I took an awful medication.

But was everything perfect?

Would I really have been all that different if it wasn’t for that drug? I’m not saying Accutane isn’t terrible, because in my experience it absolutely is. There is a strong link with suicide and depression and the creators of the drug will continue to deny so, because they want to make money. Billions of pounds.

But I think part of the reason I fell prey to its effects so strongly is because my body is wired differently to most. I can’t drink coffee, I can’t get away with drinking alcohol and I certainly can’t get away with taking a risky, controversial medication.

So, to sum up, taking Accutane was a bad idea. A mistake. But I believe I would still be struggling now (though perhaps less so) if I hadn’t of taken it, or got Acne in the first place.

Because I have always been Highly Sensitive. I was born this way, baby. And it can be hard to navigate through our World as a HSP. I am still trying to piece things together and find my place.

Anxiety and Depression are common, though. This World can create a lot of suffering and the people in charge of this broken system which encourages sitting down at a computer for 8 hours have a lot to answer for. I no longer feel the need to blame Accutane for everything that is wrong with my life, because I know that sitting in an office all day and commuting through traffic are the current problems I face. I cannot change what has already happened but I can play a part in how I spend my precious hours now.

Acne and a traumatic experience with Accutane certainly were added baggage that I wish I could have avoided. They delayed my discovery and understanding of the HSP and Introverted world, because I thought my emotions could be cured with a super healthy diet, or special supplement. But I know I am capable of being happy, because when I am in my element, I am happy as Larry.

And Larry is a happy guy.

I apologise if this post was a bit depressing. And God knows it was LONG. I said previously that I would be brutally honest and open about some of the things I have gone through and continue to go through.

If you made it this far, I want to say a big Thank you. And if you did make it this far, leave a comment saying ‘Santa Claus’, so I know who the extra awesome ones are.

It took time to understand that I was a HSP, and I think it is very common for people to go down a whole bunch of roads before arriving here. Hopefully in time people will find the answers they seek and realise they don’t need antidepressants, because they are not broken and antidepressants will not change your inherent nature.

Sometimes, we need to take a look around and realise WE are the sane ones. Drugs and other substances can numb your sensitivity, but do you really want to be one of them?

I would love to hear YOUR story. How did you come to understand your own nature as a HSP? I look forward to talking to you in the comments!

~ Alex.

 

 

 

Do you feel like the only HSP in the World?

I know that I can feel very lonely and isolated in my day-to-day life.

Sometimes, I can be feeling quite happy and at ease, but I can also often feel incredibly anxious, paranoid, drained of energy and in need of a big strong hug and a reassuring, ‘It’s okay. Everything will be alright. Just hang in there. You are doing well’.

On the bad days though, when I am stuck at work (in my corporate office job) those hugs and kind words aren’t usually forthcoming.

I can feel very lost, like a child desperately looking for their parent in the School yard. I feel vulnerable, like I’m pretending to be an adult. I am a tall kid, wearing a suit and tie. I am an imposter. ‘Nobody else feels like this …’ I think.

But, as I have previously stated, Dr. Elaine Aron (the expert on this stuff) says that 15-20% of the World’s population are Highly Sensitive. On her website that promotes the film ‘Sensitive The Movie’, there is a claim that 1.4 people are HSPs.

While this claim is obviously an estimate, it’s probably pretty close.

Which can be relieving to know, but also seemingly impossible.

Because you cannot see that people are Highly Sensitive, unless you are very observant or spend a lot of time with them. Most likely though, you are focusing on yourself 90% of the time. And so are the others. Isn’t it funny to think the others probably assume you are an extrovert, or Non-HSP?

Do you know where your work colleagues go for their lunch? Do you notice the other people leaving the office by themselves? Are they heading off to meet a friend or do they just need to get some breathing space? What about that person in the corner of the lunch hall with a book? Maybe they are like you.

P.S. Don’t you hate when someone tries to start a conversation with you when you are reading a book?

“What’cha reading there?”

(*Thinks* GO AWAY)

“Oh, erm … it’s a book about … well, it’s a romance. It’s a lovely little novel about someone getting disciplined by a fella called Christian Grey. It outsold Harry Potter.”

It actually outsold Harry Potter. Oh dear!

So, while you will continue to have days where you feel weak and need picking up, try to keep a rational perspective. Some people are good at blending in with the crowd and go unnoticed. Others are good at acting and go home exhausted afterwards.

There is nothing wrong with being a HSP.

In fact, much of the traits that are a part of being Highly Sensitive are wonderful. Things like honesty, integrity and kindness. Creativity and appreciation for the arts. The lack of desire for superficial material possessions. The spiritual connection to animals and people. Real, deep connections instead of shallow or even ‘fake’ friendships. Thinking about the people in need, instead of just caring about your own desires and stepping over anyone who is in your way.

I don’t mean to make this an ‘Us Vs. Them’ thing. I just want to remind you that this isn’t a curse. And I also don’t want to give the impression that I think everyone who isn’t Highly Sensitive is a heartless, cruel, two-faced bastard. I’m merely saying that HSPs are – in my opinion – never those things.

Thank you for joining me in another post.

I will speak to you again soon. Until then, take care of yourself and remember YOU ARE AWESOME.

~ Alex.

 

Traits of a Highly Sensitive Person.

As this blog has only just started, it makes sense to touch base with the basics of being a HSP.

So, what kind of boxes do you need to tick off in order to establish that you are, in fact, a Highly Sensitive Person?

If you relate to a lot of the below, and would have done if I had of asked the same a year ago (meaning you are not just going through a rough patch), the chances are likely that you are a HSP like me! Welcome to the club if so. Have a badge. (Reminder to self: Get some badges for the people!)

One other note before we begin. I am an introvert. Most HSPs are, but Elaine Aron (who I mentioned in my first post) estimates around 30% to be extroverted. I apologise if some of the below seems directed more towards introverts, but I am speaking from my own experiences.

I also apologise if you think apologise should be spelled with a ‘Z’. You are wrong, my American friends!

Let’s go through a few questions to see if you are officially Highly Sensitive …

P.S. THE LIST IS LONG!

  • Do you startle easily, such as when a loud noise comes on suddenly? (BEEP! BEEP!)
  • When you were younger, were you often regarded as ‘Shy’ or ‘Very Quiet’?
  • Would you struggle to cope under pressure or while being watched? (‘Oh no! My fingers appear to have turned into Jelly .. Let me just try and type that sentence again … Oops. This must be happening because you are WATCHING MY EVERY MOVE!!’)
  • Do you become exhausted if you are unable to get away by yourself for a while?
  • Do you have a deep connection with nature and animals?
  • Do you appreciate art and lean towards creativity?
  • Does an open office look a lot like HELL to you?
  • Do you overthink things and worry more than what might be considered ‘normal’?
  • Do you find yourself overwhelmed with sadness when you hear of bad and tragic news? Is it hard for you to let go of that sadness?
  • Would your ideal day be sitting outside in your garden with a book, as opposed to drinking in a bar full of people or shopping in a Mall?
  • Do other people’s moods affect you? I.e. does their anger make you feel really awkward and uncomfortable?
  • Does small talk just seem like a complete waste of time to you?!
  • Do you often come home from work and retreat to your bedroom, drawing the curtains?
  • Are you very self-aware?
  • Are you unable to tolerate caffeine and other stimulants? Will coffee make you feel anxious and jittery? Does alcohol affect you quickly and leave you feeling a shambles the next day if you have more than a few drinks?
  • Do you get stressed when you are forced to multi-task?
  • Do you try hard to avoid making mistakes?
  • Are you hard on yourself? Perfectionist, much?
  • Is it impossible for you to shut out irritating noises, such as a ticking clock? (TICK, TOCK. TICK, TOCK. ‘Oh, God! It’s counting down the seconds¬†until I cease to exist!’)
  • Do you spend much of your time reflecting on things inside your head instead of looking at the World around you?
  • Do you feel like you are lagging behind everyone else?
  • Do you enjoy quiet and solitude, particularly late at night?
  • Do you sometimes struggle with insomnia and poor sleep?
  • Are you sensitive to hunger? I.e. ‘I am going to commit atrocities¬†if I don’t eat something! It’s been like 3 hours since I ate!!’
  • Does change make you feel uncomfortable and are you slow to adjust to new people and environments?

That’s my list I put together with a bit of thought. I think that just about covers it.

I know some HSPs are sensitive to violent films and TV shows, but I personally enjoy watching horror films and crime shows. Although, perhaps they are more stimulating to me than for those usual folk.

Can you relate to the above? Did I miss anything?

I would love to hear about YOUR experiences as a HSP.

Until we meet again, take care of yourself and dream big.

~ Alex.

 

An introduction to this blog.

Hello to you.

My name is Alex Lay and I am a highly sensitive dude.

Up until a few years ago, I had just assumed I was a bit weird. I knew I was different to most people, but I had no idea there was a label for people like me.

At first, I thought the label sounded very negative. Surely being sensitive is a bad thing … Our World is all about survival of the fittest. If you aren’t strong and resilient, you will fall behind and end up as a failure. You’ve got to do what you can to keep up with the daily grind!

But after giving it some thought, I realised our World is a bit of a mess. Greedy politicians run anti-immigration campaigns and appeal to the small-minded who think ‘Them ruddy immigrants are stealing all our jobs, init’. People compete with their work colleagues in an attempt to gain a small promotion. Men and women cheat on their partners and betray their family’s trust in order to attain short-term satisfaction. Billions of animals are slaughtered and abused in factory farms and slaughterhouses or, arguably worse, at the Yulin Festival in China. Planet Earth continues to be destroyed, while people remain blissfully ignorant and tag along with the crowd like lost sheep.

I could go on …

But let’s just say that some very, very bad things happen. You can’t turn on the news for a few minutes without hearing about another tragic murder or terrorist attack. The news of this week is that an American police officer shot a black man for, well … being black. The guy was getting his vehicle paperwork and the Cop freaked – or else is just very racist and assuming – and unleashed a spray of bullets.

America – mate – you’ve got to tighten up the gun control laws. “But Alex, guns don’t kill people. People kill people”. Yes. You are right. But guns certainly make it very easy, don’t they?

Dr. Elaine Aron first coined the term ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ (or HSP for short). Elaine estimates that 15-20% of people are predisposed to a more active and sensitive nervous system, which results in a tendency to become more easily overwhelmed and stimulated that the rest, coined ‘Non-HSPs’. You cannot decide to become non-sensitive. It is in your physiology. It’s in your blood, man.

I’ve been ever interested in this stuff, because it plays a HUGE part in my life. So huge that I had to hit caps-lock for a moment. I digest everything HSP related I can find, but I have become aware that not many men are talking about this.

Sometimes, you realise you are the one who needs to do what hasn’t yet been done. So I am stepping up to the plate.

Please follow this Blog for further posts. I will aim to write something new at least once a week, and I will be very transparent and open about my appreciation for my own sensitive nature, as well as honest about the struggles I have faced and continue to face as I navigate through this crazy little planet.

I plan to start filming some YouTube videos soon, which I will combine with my posts so watch this space!

Until the next time, take care and dream big.

~ Alex.